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Workplace injuries and death still occur too frequently

Sometimes, we like to think as a society, we are much smarter and better than generations gone by. We are "modern" and we don't make the mistakes that were made in the past.

Workers' compensation, we may think, is not that important any longer, because we now have safety programs at most workplaces and there are inspectors from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and that has greatly reduced the number of workplace injuries.

While safety in the workplace may have improved from the early days of industrialization, and the rate of injuries is much lower than even 50 years ago, there are still many workplace injuries that occur every year in Iowa and throughout the nation.

While OSHA does attempt to inspect many businesses, the reality is that they face many limitations. OSHA only has about 2,200 inspectors to protect the 130 million Americans who go to work every day.

OSHA reports that more than 4,600 workers were killed in 2014. This means that about 13 workers who started the day at work will end it in a morgue. A family will lose a father or mother, husbands and wives will lose their spouse and children will lose a parent.

What is most appalling is that most of these so-called "accidents" are not really accidents at all. They are negligence, where people acted in ways that they knew or should have known, were dangerous, but they did it anyway, due to lack of training, indifference or in an attempt to save money.

And for those who are not killed, many suffer injuries, ranging from minor, where they miss a few days of work, to severe, which may lead to a permanent disability and inability to ever return to work

Workers' Compensation is a tremendous benefit to those workers and their families, allowing them the time and money to recover, if possible, and return to work. Because workers' compensation functions like an insurance program, be sure you understand how it operates in your workplace before you are injured.

Source: osha.gov, "Commonly Used Statistics," Occupational Safety & Health Administration, page accessed March 2016.

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